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Digital content: why and how we publish it

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Digital content is integral to our communication and policy engagement work. The department's digital strategy sets out how the the department will use digital tools and techniques to improve its policymaking process and communicate with its external audiences. Digital tools and techniques depend on the production and publication of digital content, including text, video, audio and images.

Why we publish digital content

The department publishes digital content for 3 main reasons:

  • to explain policy: to help those with an interest in government policy understand the work of the department, including those who already have a detailed understanding of our work, and those with an occasional interest
  • for policy engagement: to help make better policy by inviting people to engage in and contribute to the policymaking process
  • for transparency: to invite scrutiny of our work and increase our accountability and effectiveness by working openly

Our overriding aim is to provide digital content that meets the needs of our users. That means using channels, formats and styles that are convenient for them.

The channels we use

The default owned channels we use for providing content are:

  • Inside government: GOV.UK pages provide a platform for all the department's official and corporate publishing, and a common government-wide style guide (see: DH homepage on GOV.UK).
  • blogs: official blogs from named individuals that provide a commentary on a policy or an area of work. Often used as part of a policy engagement campaign. Reserved for authentically authored blogs. (see: Viv Bennett's blog).
  • policy campaign sites: content and digital engagement from multiple sources, aggregated around a policy theme. Reserved for departmental policy priorities (see: Dementia Challenge).

Supported by:

  • digital publications: self contained digital products that enable users to browse and search as well as print. Used for all major publications (see: The power of information).
  • commentable documents: digital publications that enable users to post line by line comments. Used for consultations and other policy engagement exercises (see: Draft care and support bill).
  • social media: includes corporate social media channels, but with the emphasis on individuals using social media for person-to-person conversations. Includes participation in, and partnerships with, existing online communities (see: Alistair Burns on Twitter).
  • bespoke multimedia: hosted by 3rd parties but embedded in multiple channels, including some of those mentioned in the above. Includes: video, audio, infographics, live blogs, webchats, curated links, photos, interactive graphics (see: DH videos on YouTube).

How we use our channels explain policy

We use methods to explain policy that:

  • provide a clear and concise account of government work
  • add meaning to our content through the way it is presented, and the formats we use

Channels and techniques to explain policy include:

...for policy engagement

We use methods for policy engagement that:

  • place emphasis on the policy priorities of the department
  • showcase content from people, including thought-leaders in the department
  • distribute the production of content to the people responsible for the content
  • extend the reach of our content beyond government channels

Channels and techniques for policy engagement include:

...for transparency

We use methods for transparency that:

  • are genuinely open, rather than just meet our obligations
  • enable extremely efficient production and publishing processes within the department

Channels and techniques for transparency include:

Who publishes our digital content

  • Inside government: editors in the digital team produce and publish most of the content. Some discreet areas of content are devolved to the people responsible for the content (statistics, press releases).
  • blogs: the authors of the blogs
  • policy campaign sites: digital communication managers produce or curate most of the content, occasionally devolving responsibility to others
  • social media: potentially every member of staff (see Official attributed content policy)
  • digital publications and commentable documents: the authors
  • bespoke multimedia: usually created or commissioned by the digital team

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